Colorado’s Eli Stalzershoots over Southern Cal’s Strahinja Gavrilovic during Saturday’s game.
Colorado's Eli Stalzershoots over Southern Cal's Strahinja Gavrilovic during Saturday's game. (Cliff Grassmick / Daily Camera)

During the past two games, the Colorado men's basketball team has seen some new looks at point guard.

With junior Spencer Dinwiddie out for the season, the Buffaloes have inserted true freshman Jaron Hopkins into the lineup and put him behind the wheel of the offense.

But, he's not alone. Sophomore Eli Stalzer has been adjusting to a new role, as well.

Together, Hopkins, Stalzer and sophomore Xavier Talton are trying to solidify the point for the No. 21 Buffs.

"I think we've done well," Stalzer said. "We've just got to come together as a team, find our feel and get momentum going."

The spotlight is shining brightest on Hopkins, because he has taken Dinwiddie's spot in the starting lineup. He struggled Thursday in a loss to No. 25 UCLA, but rebounded in Saturday's 83-62 win against Southern Cal.

Hopkins had 10 points and two steals Saturday. He didn't have any assists, but also didn't have any turnovers.

"I think I'm playing with pretty good confidence," Hopkins said. "I think it could be better. I just have to keep going out there and practicing and working on my game in my off time."

CU head coach Boyle said Hopkins has been "really coachable." Boyle pointed out Hopkins' aggressiveness in transition on Saturday, as well his mindset to pass the ball ahead on the break, rather than dribble down court. Those are two things coaches talked to Hopkins about this week.

"Jaron was great, and we're going to need him to be," Boyle said.


Stalzer was pretty good, too. He played 20 minutes against USC - one shy of his career-high and finished with four points, a career-high six rebounds and an assist.

He has played 42 minutes in the two-and-a-half games since Dinwiddie got hurt. He had played 27 minutes all season before Dinwiddie's injury.

"It feels good," Stalzer said. "I'm adjusting to playing more minutes, the speed of the game, not getting tired and I keep pushing myself. I think I've been doing well."

Talton, meanwhile, hasn't had much of an adjustment in his role, but his minutes have become more important. He scored just two points Saturday, but was second on the team with three assists.

Monster block

Askia Booker came into Saturday's game with two blocks in 85 career games. Yet, in the first half, the junior, who is generously listed at 6-feet, 2-inches, elevated to swat USC backup center D.J. Haley, who stands 7-feet tall.

"It's happened in practice," Booker said, drawing laughter during the postgame practice. "Not in a college basketball game, though. I guess it seemed like a pretty nice block. I'll probably have to go watch that again."

Booker's block was one of 10 for the Buffs, their highest single-game total since having 10 against Pepperdine on Dec. 4, 2006.

Stopping Wesley

USC's Byron Wesley finished with nine points on Saturday, but none of those came when the game mattered.

CU held Wesley scoreless during the first 24 minutes, 46 seconds of the game. Wesley, who leads the Trojans with 16.9 points per game coming in, didn't score until 15:14 to play. At that point, CU led by 22 points. All nine of his points came with USC trailing by at least 22 points.

The Buffs' Xavier Johnson drew the assignment of guarding Wesley and spent much of the night on him. At times, George King, Booker and Hopkins also guarded Wesley.

"Xavier Johnson, we really challenged him," Boyle said. "With the lineup that we play, he's going to have to guard a good perimeter player. With Spencer (who was CU's best perimeter defender) out, a lot of that is going to fall on XJ's lap and he responded tonight very well. I thought all our perimeter guys did."


Senior Ben Mills had a career-high five rebounds. He also had four points and tied his career high with 11 minutes played. In addition, Mills collected the third block of his career. The previous two came against Kansas State on Feb. 12, 2011, when he was a freshman. ... In the past two games, Booker has 34 points on 10-for-16 shooting. ... Wesley Gordon had a career-high five blocks. ... CU is 5-3 all-time against USC, including 4-0 in Boulder and 3-0 since joining the Pac-12. ... CU senior Kevin Nelson left the game late with what appeared to be a dislocated finger. ... CU had 11 players score. The Buffs had not had more than eight scorers since getting 11 against Air Force on Nov. 30.

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